By Amanda Bell
October 22, 2018 at 11:27 PM EDT
Credit: Trae Patton/NBC
S15 E9

The battles are nearing an end for this season of The Voice, which means we’re inching ever nearer to the knockouts and then the live rounds (which finally allows the audience to get in on the game with voting after so much emotional investment in these artists). In other words, there’s a lot of show to go, and we’re still learning something new about these contestants with every round advancement.

Tonight, a slate of promising contestants reclaim the stage, and some are convincing enough to earn their way through right away, while others are good enough to be saved by the steal. Either way, this season is really stacking up to be a promising one on the talent production front because there are a surprising amount of instant favorites cropping up this year. Things are only going to get tougher from here as the coaches whittle down their teams to the best of the best.

Let’s take a look at who makes it through this time.

Team Blake: Keith Paluso vs. Dave Fenley
“I’m a One Woman Man” by George Jones

Blake Shelton has no choice but to pick a winner from his duo, which is a position the other judges do not envy after Paulso and Fenley tackle this classic country number with everything they’ve got. Each gent matches the enthusiasm and quirkiness of the original in their delivery, and Keith especially gets extra points for experimenting with the most fanciful moments of the piece by riffing without abandon.

This competition is Dave’s to lose, though. His rich, gravelly voice was better served by his Travis Tritt number from the blinds mind you, but he’s still without question the more compelling vocalist of the two here tonight. Despite Keith’s best efforts to take center focus, he just can’t. However, Adam Levine remembers how much he liked Keith’s lower-than-low rock growl surprise in the blinds (and how Blake blocked him then), so he’s all too eager to snag Keith from being sent home and, hopefully, pair him with a song in his preferred genre going forward.

Winner: Dave Fenley
Steal: Keith Paluso to Team Adam.

Team Adam: Reagan Strange vs. Emily Hough
“Photograph” by Ed Sheeran

There’s at least one moment in every season of The Voice where you’re pretty much a monster if you don’t feel something from what’s being thrown down on that stage, and this is one of them. The battle — if you even can call it that — between Reagan Strange and Emily Hough is so heartening and lovely that it’s hard to believe Adam Levine has to pick one of them to win, let alone send the other one home. Both are super young (Emily is 16, and Reagan is just 13!) and they’ve both got a wowing amount of maturity in their vocals with the spritely ballad.

Emily’s got a subtle seasoning to her sharp tones, but Reagan’s voice is also astoundingly steady and full. During the performance, Emily is more audible and perhaps a bit more unique sounding, but Reagan has an undeniable amount of control and composure. Every note she tries is landed so beautifully I feel like we need an Olympic ice dancing commentator in the rafters scoring her flawless execution. As her coach Adam Levine notes, she just has “it,” and while Emily doesn’t deserve to go home (and it’s surprising that no one spares a steal for her), she has earned this W tonight.

Winner: Reagan Strange
Steal: N/A.

Team Jennifer: Franc West vs. Matt Johnson
“Too Close” by Alice Clare

It took Matt Johnson 15 seasons to get his spot on The Voice, but sadly, his stint on the show is over almost as soon as it’s begun. Franc West may have been a one-chair turn in the blind auditions, but it was clear even then that he had something special going on with his gritty, deep, and unique voice.

Even though Matt has a similarly deep lower register reach and so much more control of his instrument, Franc’s tones are just so compelling and commanding that he’s hard to overlook the whole song through. He might not deliver as clean a performance as his competition, but that raw energy is even better when uncontained so far. As JHud puts it, “The show’s called The Voice, so you have to be about the voice.” It’s a no-brainer, really.

Winner: Franc West.
Steal: N/A.

Team Kelly: Abby Cates vs. Delaney Silvernell
“Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding

After letting go of Emily Hough earlier in the night, Adam Levine picks up Delaney Silvernell after she battles with Abby Cates, who has a nice range and bell-like tone. Delaney has a more developed sound, but in their battle, Abby does her best to get ahead of — quite literally speaking — Delaney and her vocal largess. Abby’s notes are much more precise than her competitor’s, but the experience audible in Delaney’s voice is enough to secure her steal.

Team: Abby Cates
Steal: Delaney Silvernell to Team Adam.

Team Adam: Jake Wells vs. Natalie Brady
“Closing Time” by Semisonic

As much as Adam Levine liked what Natalie Brady threw down in the blinds with her uncannily on-point rendition of Heart, he knows that he’s got a better shot at moving forward with an artist who isn’t an audio-doppelganger of someone so distinct. That’s why he’s chosen this song, which is no doubt meant to elevate the melodic, folksy soulfulness of the very present Jake Wells. And that it does.

To Natalie’s credit, she does very well with dialing her domination down to a sweeter, softer level to match Jake before soaring to her bigger voice, but then Jake’s able to reach up to her volume as well without breaking stride of the honesty of his delivery. He might have been a bit questionable in the blinds, but Adam was right to hear something special in his voice because he has crushed it with this song.

Winner: Jake Wells
Steal: N/A.

Team Jennifer: Tyshawn Colquitt vs. Zaxai
“Love Lies” by Khalid and Normani

Few of the battles have felt truly competitive, but this might be the most complimentary one yet. Even those OneUp guys didn’t match as well as Tyshawn Colquitt and Zaxai. There are subtle differences between them — Tyshawn has a slightly sharper voice and a higher head voice, while Zaxai is a little steadier and reliant on his flow — but it takes a pretty keen ear to tell them apart during their harmonies. Even their dance moves are perfectly synchronized.

The other coaches give the edge to Zaxai for note control, but JHud hears more potential in Tyshawn’s range and willingness to explore his own range reaches. Well, it’s either that or she decides the best way for both to go through is to hand Zaxai off to Kelly, whom she blocked from recruiting him in the first place. Win-win.

Winner: Tyshawn Colquitt
Steal: Zaxai to Team Kelly.

The montages: There are a few battles we don’t get to see play out in full tonight for one reason or another. Team Adam’s Foushee and Radha go head to head on Alessia Cara’s “Growing Pains,” and the latter comes out victorious because her coach dubs her a “force” that’s “impossible to ignore,” which is why he liked about her in the blinds as well. Then, Team Kelly’s Chevel Shepherd holds her own against Mikele Buck with George Strait’s “You Look So Good In Love,” thanks to her “rad and unique” tones. Lastly, Jennifer decides to give MaKenzie Thomas the go-ahead over Audri Bartholomew after their rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.”

And with that, here we are. One more night to go ’til the knockouts.


Adam Levine – Tyke James, Radha, DeAndre Nico, Steve Memmolo, Reagan Strange, Jake Wells, Funsho, Keith Paluso, Delaney Silvernell.

Blake Shelton – Kameron Marlowe, Michael Lee, Dave Fenley, Chris Kroeze, Kayley Hill, Kirk Jay, Caeland Garner, Colton Smith, Katrina Cain.

Kelly Clarkson – Sarah Grace, Claire DeJean, Chevel Shepherd, Abby Cates, Kymberli Joye, Erika Zade, Cody Ray Raymond, Natasia Greycloud, Josh Davis, Zaxai.

Jennifer Hudson – Tyshawn Colquitt, Patrique Fortson, Kennedy Holmes, Franc West, MaKenzie Thomas, Mike Parker, Lela, Sandyredd, Anthony Arya.

An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Abby Cates was stolen by Adam Levine, instead of Delaney Silvernell.

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The Voice - Season 14

The Voice

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.

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